NEW LENOX – After playing for and then later coaching under Brian Papa, it’s easy to see one of the major influences for new Lincoln-Way West boys soccer coach Matt Laude.
The 2006 Lincoln-Way East graduate, who went on to a be a four-time letter winner at Millikin University, also feels fortunate to count several others from the Lincoln-Way district with helping to shape his coaching philosophy.
Laude also coached under Ryan McAllister at West, Ryan Decker at East and Dan Radz at Central. He’ll draw on positives he’s learned from each of them to go along with a few things he’s picked up in nearly a decade of being around Papa, who is one of the state’s all-time winningest coaches.
Although this is his first head coaching opportunity, Laude feels confident that his many years as an assistant working with other winning coaches will allow him to continue the success that West has enjoyed during the past five seasons under Jeff Theiss, who will just focus on leading the Warriors’ girls program in the upcoming school year.
“I was with Brian for about six years, but I actually have worked at all of the Lincoln-Ways under the two Ryans and Dan,” Laude said. “I have a unique experience from working with many different head coaches, so I’ll take all of the things that I’ve learned from them.
“I’ve always wanted to be a head coach and knew that there were a lot of very smart people in front of me, so I did what any good assistant does and learned from them and was patient and waited for my time. Here I am with this opportunity, and I’m thoroughly excited about it.”
Laude is pleased to follow McAllister and Theiss, whose efforts to build a strong foundation at West figure to make his initial head coaching stint much easier.
“Ryan did a lot of good things and then Jeff continued the good things and had a very good program,” Laude said. “So for me coming in at this point, it’s a pretty well-oiled machine. But the thing about soccer is that there’s so many different clubs in the area that we’re taking two kids from this club and two from that club and we have to bring them together.”
Although he was never the biggest player on the field, Laude’s fast-paced and hardworking style made him a force to be reckoned with throughout his playing days.
He wouldn’t mind having a lot of players like that to work with, and he’s encouraged by the types of athletes that the Warriors have had on their roster during the past few seasons.
“We just had an optional conditioning where they knew that they were coming to run, so it’s not the fun side of soccer, and we still had 40 kids out here,” Laude said. “They’re passionate about soccer and want to be here, and some of them are here 30 minutes early. That passion and drive is exciting to me and that’s something that you can’t teach.
“I can teach people how to play a ball or how to settle, but you can’t teach the will to want to get better. We have a group of a lot of boys that have that, which is kind of reflective of how I played. While I’d like to have 15 mini-Laudes out there, it’s also kind of a scary thought.”
After putting in his time to finally become a head coach, Laude is ready to get started and see how his team fares in the SouthWest Suburban Conference. He’ll be assisted by two East graduates, Marissa Rosandich on the varsity and Joe Stephens with the JV1.
“I want August 9 to come,” Laude said of the start of the season. “I want to see what we have and exactly who’s coming out. So I’m itching for this season to get started. Soccer is getting better in this area and the competition is rising, so we we’re looking to get better.”